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UNICEF: Prioritize children to speed up Roma inclusion in Europe

BRUSSELS/GENEVA 3 April 2014 — On the eve of the third Roma summit in Brussels today, UNICEF calls on European governments to firmly place children at the centre of Roma inclusion policies.

Across Europe, progress has been made to realize the rights of Roma children. Yet many Roma girls and boys still face extreme poverty, social exclusion and discrimination, according to
a new UNICEF summary report released today.

“Now is the time for European governments to transform their commitments into reality for all Roma boys and girls,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. She also highlighted this year’s 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as an opportunity to assess what has been achieved and the challenges that lie ahead.

“These commitments need to be translated into policies and funding that directly reach Roma children so that they reach their full potential. A first priority should be collecting disaggregated data on children. Better data enables better policies and monitoring at local and central levels,” Ms. Poirier said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia are among the first countries to collect and make publicly available disaggregated data on Roma children, the summary report noted.

“We applaud these bold initiatives and we urge other governments and partners to follow these valuable examples,” she added.


UNICEF analyzed data collected in the three countries covered in the summary report,
Realizing the rights of Roma Children and women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The key areas highlighted for immediate policy action are:

  • End malnutrition: during the first years of life, one in five Roma children in Bosnia and Herzegovina is too short for his or her age, compared to less than one in ten nationally.
  • Secure access to quality inclusive health care services and information for women and children: in all three countries, Roma children are more likely to have low weight at birth than other children on average nationally.
  • Expand supply of inclusive early child education and learning for children: in Serbia, only 8 per cent of Roma children aged 3-4 years attend early childhood education, compared to 44 per cent of children nationally.
  • Provide family support services and encourage equal involvement of mothers and fathers in raising their children: in Serbia, Roma mothers and fathers with secondary or higher education are up to twice more likely to engage with children than parents with no education. When parents are better educated, they are more involved in raising their children, which increases children’s survival, growth and development.
  • Improve the quality and inclusiveness of primary and secondary education, particularly for Roma girls and women: in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 35 per cent of Roma girls attend secondary school, while nationally, 84 per cent of girls attend.
  • Improve living standards and address the income poverty of Roma households, in particular of Roma women: in all three countries, Roma households are less likely to have improved sanitation or have a place for hand washing and more likely to use wood for cooking compared to national averages.

UNICEF recommends such priority investments for children and young people as necessary contributions to social cohesion and sustainable development as enshrined in the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’.

 

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work please visit www.unicef.org/ceecis

For further information, please contact:

John Budd
UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Chief
Tel: +41 22 909 5429
Mobile:  +41 79 431 1537

Lely Djuhari
UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Specialist
Tel: +41 22 909 5433
Mobile: +41 792 044482

Email: mediaceecis@unicef.org 

 

 
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